Gogobot – The New Yelp?

Gogobot is the go-to place for personalized recommendations for the best places to eat, sleep, drink or explore.  Have a few hours to kill in a new location and want to experience the best local spots? Gogobot may be your best source to get the true authentic experience. Founded in 2010 and based in Menlo Park, CA, it is the 5th most visited travel planning site in the US and was the fastest growing travel website in 2013. The company has been named Best Travel Apps/Sites by Time Magazine, Mashable, Travel & Leisure and more. But the question is…can it scale enough and garner enough usage to usurp Yelp or even be muttered in the same breadth as TripAdvisor?

Gogobot’s mission is to help you discover great places to go and things to do that are perfect for you.  It gives users access to reviews of hotels, restaurants, and activities at destinations around the world. A user can create their own daily itinerary and access it across various platforms such as desktop, mobile and tablet.   The company has system integration capabilities to sync and share with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Flipboard.

As an LA native, I tested out the curated Los Angeles gogo destination by popular restaurants, attractions and guides. I  can vouch that the recommendations are the best of the best and offer the tried and true local spots as well as the best new spots that locals have been talking about for weeks. My favorite restaurant – Wurstkuche (an exotic sausage and Belgium/German beerhouse restaurant where you just want to chill at communal tables and meet cool hipsters in Venice or Downtown for hours) was listed as #1 while the featured foodie guides truly hit the spot for the best ramen and sushi spots on the cheap. But then why have I rarely used it and personally rely on Yelp?  The answer likely lies on the power of reviews and the perception that the more there are, the better the reliability – the power of crowdsourcing.

With $39M raised in 3 rounds (after an initial $4M raised by Battery Ventures) as of 2014 it will be interesting to see how this company will continue to grow. The most people that use the service, the number of recommendations grow. The CEO, Travis Katz, last stated a year ago that the service had 4M photos for 60,000 destinations.

Value Creation: The initial concept was to create a travel planning app for people to use a few times a year when they were planning their annual or quarterly vacations. However, the model changed as the company noticed ~70% of searches in the location users were currently in. This is largely due to the “tribes” who give personalized recommendations based on your preferences and interests such as kid friendly vegetarian options, foodies, outdoor adventures or local state parks.

Gogobot 3

Gogobot 1

Value Capture: The company is able to monetize through two primary sources: 1) acting as a lead-gen service for third party travel providers such as hotels and vacation package providers and 2) selling advertising on its website directly and through Google.

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